# Maths starts early

Maths, even in the first years of life, involves a great many skills, including counting, estimating, retrieving maths facts, being able to solve problems and so on.

No wonder so many of our children find it so difficult.

### Theres no need to rush!

It is important to gain an understanding of numbers and what they do before you can move on. If you have a full understanding of how numbers work, then you can apply that knowledge to bigger numbers and solve more complex calculations. Often, children are not given the time to gain that understanding. We teach them to count and then go onto learning the times tables without a full understanding of what numbers are. Some lucky people have a good understanding right from the start, but for others, that is not the case.

Many adults, as well as children,  think they cannot do maths. It's something that a lot of people are scared of. It's the topic that expects a correct answer and can be very unforgiving.

• Maths has its own language - it has its own set of rules. This can be a barrier to learning.

• Numbers are abstract - in the early stages of learning it helps to use concrete materials.

• It has rules that need to be learnt and followed. These rules work for small and large numbers.

• It takes practice and repetition. But not in a boring way.

• Different parts of maths should not be taught in isolation - Teach adding alongside subtraction, fractions alongside division. Link the different aspect and show how they relate to each other.

The answer to learning maths is fun... Playing games, using concrete equipment, solving puzzles and playing with shapes and numbers. If it is fun then children will want to come back to play with numbers, and they won't even know their learning.

### Remember

Games are fun and they give your child the opportunity to do lots of counting. Games give you child the chance to;

• say numbers out loud

• say which number is bigger or smaller

• count things

• read numbers

• you make choices when you play and this help work out how to use numbers

• you can talk about numbers when you play

• learning to take turns

### Using Apparatus

I'm a big fan of using apparatus for all kinds of number work. Blocks, Rods, LEGO bricks, straws, number cards, number lines, small animals and many more. But there is one resource that I think is particularly valuable and that is Numicon. When I was teaching I found it was the resource that the children enjoyed using the most. It is such a shame that in most schools the concrete maths equipment is used less and less the further up the school the child goes.

Number is a very difficult subject to get your head around, and if you do not get the basics right and fully understand what the numbers are doing, then later on when you are working on bigger problems, life will be so much harder. The reason a lot of adults hate maths and will say they are no good at it is that we were not given the time to fully understand how to manipulate those numbers.

## Examples of Concrete Materials

Counters - These can be large or small (or buttons)

Coins - Real or pretend

Unifix cubes -

Number tracks and bead strings

Number lines to 10 - 20 and 100

Blank number lines

100 squares

Clocks - these can be made by the child

Numicon

Scales

## Examples of Games Materials

Board games like snakes and ladders/ludo

Playing cards

Dice

Number puzzles

Paper and Pens

Mirrors

Graph Paper

Lined Paper

Cut out shapes

Check out the blog - Making Numbers Fun - for some ideas of games to play to help make sense of numbers.